2020 BHUTAN FESTIVALS

TSHECHU is a religious festival held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple.

 

Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment. 

It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries, the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages, they are performed jointly by monks and village men. 

According to legend, all these dances appeared in the past Buddhist master's vision during their meditation. The steps and moves are strictly followed as it was performed in the past. Alteration of the steps is seen as sacrilegious and would not be attempted by any masked dance teacher.

Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country are the Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals, many tourists from across the world are attracted to these unique, colorful and exciting displays of traditional culture.

Most tshechus also feature the unfurling of a Thongdrel - a large Thangka typically depicting a seated Padmasambhava surrounded by holy beings. The mere viewing of which is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. The Thongdrel is raised before dawn and rolled down by morning.

Following is the list of festivals which take places in various districts which you can refer and perhaps plan your trip to Bhutan around it. With the growing numbers of tourists visiting Bhutan, we would recommend travelers to plan as early as 6 to 9 months ahead to secure flights and hotel reservations.

Given the fact that Paro and Thimphu Tshechus are the most visited festivals in Bhutan due to it's accessibility, we would also suggest travelers to explore the "less popular" festivals held in other areas such as in Bumthang, Trashigang or Lhuentse for example.